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Mystery surrounds the Alien Junk Monsters. The true identities of these recyclers/ percussionists are fiercely guarded and lie hidden beneath layers of rubbish.

‘I like the anonymity,’ says Yangfang ‘The Pelvis’ Rambluckt. ‘Everyone loves my irresistible dance moves, but no one knows who I really am.’

The concept of the monsters came to musical director Mortimer Runcorn after working with a group called Junkadelic in Western Australia. ‘This was an arts collective that, as well as playing junk/recycled instrument-based music, would build parade floats, puppets and costumes,’ says Mortimer. ‘My thought was to combine these more, and build junk creatures that played the music.’ The Alien Junk Monsters’ instruments and outer shells are created from waste material sourced from skips, dumps, roadsides and recycling facilities. But ‘We don’t smell of garbage,’ claims Grork.

Richard Cooper Photography

The monsters’ first official gig was at the 2011 Wellington Santa Parade after-party and in 2013 they appeared on New Zealand’s Got Talent. Their number increased from six to seven when the polystyrosaur joined them. ‘Now we’ve got an interactive frontmonster for our adoring fans,’ says Yangfang. And following recent sightings at Te Papa, it has been confirmed that an eighth monster, a bubble-wrap creature, has now joined the group.

The monsters promote a message of waste-minimisation, recycling and creative re-use of waste material. But the best thing for them is the reaction they get. Grork talks of ‘the thrill of seeing excited smiley happy faces and terrified children who simply stare in awe and disbelief.’ Skizzashavizza Kleeb agrees: ‘I love interacting with the audience, particularly the children who often aren’t sure whether to scream or laugh.’

So what can audiences expect from an Alien Junk Monsters performance? ‘The funkiest drum breaks this side of the milky way. Drama, mystery, energy, creative choreography… we got it all,’ says Yangfang. Skizzashavizza adds that the group offers ‘catchy, foot-tapping rhythms as we bring out the fun in recycling. Oh, and bumping into things – hidden away under all those layers, we can’t always see where we’re going.’

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